I don’t often gush about restaurants but recently I have found one that is worthy of just that. Currently I am spending quite a bit of time in WA for work and more specifically Fremantle. As with many towns and cities there is always the quintessential tourist trap restaurants, we have them in Cairns and Fremantle is the same. Most prominently there is the Kailis Wharf with its barrage of seafood restaurants, takeaways, the expensive steakhouse and let’s not forget Little Creatures where you can pay anywhere between $13 & $15 for a pint of beer.
Determined not to fall into the trap myself I was given a recommendation to a newish restaurant called Bread In Common by one of crewmates that lives in Perth. Armed with local knowledge I took charge of a dinner ‘date’ I had planned with one of MS’ good friends also currently residing in Perth. GL had been trying in vain to get me to go to the Raw Kitchen – a vegan restaurant that from many a review sounds far too pretentious and expensive (for no meat?), not to mention high in fat, for my liking. Sorry if you’re reading this GL, but I promise to humour you and go to The Raw Kitchen… soon.
Tucked down a quiet street with a bountiful sidewalk garden of herbs and vegetables I found Bread In Common. Whilst GL was still navigating Fremantle’s narrow lanes looking for a car park, I had arrived on foot and early. Upon entering Bread In Common I am met with a small bakery shopfront. The story goes… South of Fremantle in Yallingup there is a boutique bakery that sells this amazing Wood-Fired Organic Flour Bread – apparently their fruit loaf is sensational. People come from miles around to buy it. The bakery owner joins forces with a Perth property giant and owners of Perth landmark restaurants Il Lido and Balthazar and hence the licensed restaurant/cafe/bakery Bread In Common is born.
Beyond the bakery is a truly awesome dining room that needs to be seen to be appreciated. What was once a pharmaceutical warehouse built in the 1890’s is now a dimly lit restaurant adorned with the original red brick walls, high ceilings, polished concrete floors and large communal tables. Earlier this year Bread In Common took out four awards at the 2014 WA Architectural Awards for its ‘conceptual approach to the reinvention of the warehouse’.
My gushing began after I found out that one of the entrees (Mousetraps) was actually little Vegemite and Cheese toasts. I got so excited that I nearly fell off my chair and I’m pretty sure the waiter thought I was a little cuckoo – excess sodium intake perhaps? My penchant for Vegemite has become so ravenous that MS has started to put me on rations in an attempt to lower my salt levels. I’m almost positive that he took a jar of Vegemite back out of our trolley at Coles the other day. I probably shouldn’t tell him about the takeaway packs that I smuggled out of the Qantas Club recently. For our second entree we ordered the Anchovy Toast with Egg Yolk. Those delicious furry fish are another salty delight that I enjoy straight out of the jar. No guys I’m not pregnant.
According to Bread In Common’s website their kitchen food philosophy is about locally sourced, seasonal produce and house made. The constantly evolving menu is constructed to be about sharing and enjoying time in common. GL arrived and we were shown to our table up the back of the restaurant. Bread In Common had already set the mood for sharing – figuring we would go with the flow we ordered two entrees and three mains for the two of us we sipped our wine and caught up whilst waiting for our entrees to arrive.
The Mouse Traps were bite sized toasts of Vegemite-y goodness and although delicious I do think they used the wrong cheese. A slightly stronger cheese flavour would have been better but instead the cheese reminded me of pre-sliced Light and Tasty variety.
The Anchovy Toast with Egg Yolk was a little different to what GL were expecting but probably the highlight of our entrees. The toasts were a little more like crispy pancakes than actual toast with anchovies pressed into them and the egg yolk appeared to be cooked and pureed. A unique combination that worked oh so well.
Next up came our trilogy of mains with the first one for sharing being Broccoli, Apple, Quinoa, Soy, Mustard Seeds, Puffed Amaranth (AU$16). After developing a slight aversion to Broccoli from nearly a year of ‘eating clean’ in 2013 for no other reason than plain stupidity it was nice to have a dish where the broccoli sang (in a good way). The simple but diverse flavours of this dish just can’t be put on paper, nor Toshiba laptop. It was crisp, fresh and flavoursome. Note to self: Google what the hell Amaranth is when I get back into phone range.
GL’s main of choice was the Mushrooms, Chickpeas, Rocket, Hummus, Sorrel for AU$17. I had a taste of the mushrooms with hummus and they literally melted in your mouth. Like the Broccoli Salad it too was full of flavour and fresh ingredients. GL loved this dish.
Lastly, my chosen main was the Beef Rump, Wood Roasted Pumpkin, Capers, Pepita, Fennel, Hay Ash for AU$25 – chosen for the simple fact that I needed some meat with my dinner. The chunks of Beef Rump were cooked to perfection – medium rare, with a slight char on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. Couple that with the super sweet roasted pumpkin and the crunchy pepitas I thought this dish was faultless.
Finally we were again offered the menu to look over the (only) three desserts listed at the bottom. Although three desserts is plenty there is also the Cheese List to choose from with cheeses from as far and wide as Italy, England and Northern California. Figuring we had probably already eaten enough GL and I opted to share a dessert – Pear, Cheesecake Mousse, Shortbread, Sultana, Saffron, Thyme (AU$18).
My first taste was met with applause and adoration. This dessert dish was one of the best I have eaten in a very long time – on par with that delicious pudding thing I ate at the Newmarket in Melbourne late last year and gelato from that heavenly place we call Gelato Messina. Everything just worked so perfectly together but the absolute pinnacle of the dessert was the thyme ice cream. So good in fact I was gushing about it for weeks afterward and returned for a second helping a few days later – just to make sure it wasn’t all a sweet dream.
After all this food I’m not sure where to finish. I know where I started and that was over 1000 words ago. Earlier I said I don’t often gush about restaurants but this dinner at Bread In Common has to be one of my most memorable in terms of food, service and ambience. Everything at Bread In Common is in my opinion pretty close to top notch. The space is industrial yet modern, the food fresh and innovative and the service is friendly and efficient with just a touch of quirk. Our dinner set us back just over AU$140 – 2 entrees, 3 mains, 1 dessert and 4 glasses of wine, which in my opinion is quite reasonable despite what some reviews on Trip Advisor might say. I know of a few cafes in Cairns charging more than that just for breakfast! Bread In Common is communal dining at its finest, so good in fact I have already been back twice – a mean feat for a girl that doesn’t actually like to share.
Bread In Common
43 Pakenham St, Fremantle WA
Ph: (08) 9336 1032
Opening Hours: 7 days Mon – Thurs 10am – 10pm, Fri 10am – late, Sat 9am – late, Sun 9am – 10pm
Gelato places seem to be all the rage these days but one that’s causing quite a stir in Melbourne for it’s quirky spin on the common ice cream scoop is N2 Extreme Gelato. MS and I weren’t actually planning on going to N2 Extreme Gelato. We were driving down Brunswick Street in Fitzroy when I spotted a large queue of people out of a shop door and recognising the name (N2 Extreme Gelato) I demanded MS pull over – pretty please pull over? – so we (I) could see what all the rage was about.
So just what IS all the fuss about I hear you ask? Well, at N2 they freeze their gelato on the spot with liquid nitrogen before they serve it to you. Here’s an excerpt that I pulled straight from the N2 page explaining why they use liquid nitrogen to make their gelato… “The use of liquid nitrogen at N2 Extreme Gelato plays on the strength of a phenomenon called nucleation-dominated ice crystallisation, it forms a large number of microscopic ice crystals in seconds, resulting in exceptionally smooth textures”. It’s pretty much recreating the fresh flavour that ice cream has when it comes fresh off the churn. Interesting huh? After doing a bit of online research it seems N2 also has a shop in Sydney (the original one) and there are a couple of similar concepts popping up around Australia – such as the one in Noosa that fellow blogger Baking Myself Happy told me about, Nitrogenie.
Anyway, after seeing the lineup and considering we were still ridiculously full from brunch MS and I decided sharing our scoop of N2 Gelato was the best bet. We chose one of the flavours off the wall… the Ferrero Reveal – Hazlenut and Nutella Gelato, Rice Bubble Milk Choc Top and a Warm Milk Chocolate Ganache (the menu changes weekly). It’s cash only – typical of many places in Melbourne – and at between $6 and $8 a pop these guys are making an absolute mint. The system was pretty disorganised and erratic with names being taken from a sea of people wanting gelato within a sea of people waiting for theirs.
I went up to the side of the counter to take some photos and have a look-sie at what goes on with the whole gelato ‘making’ process. There was a hell of a lot of Kitchen Aid type mixing appliance with plenty of cold mist rising out of them and workers completely run off their feet trying to pump out individual ‘made to order’ scoops. It was all pretty theatrical I guess and cool to see – kind of reminded me of the whole ‘double bubble toil and trouble’ thing from Macbeth or at least the one that SS, HT and I did for our grade 10 English assignment with Miss Bagnall.
20 minutes later my name was called… “Foodvixen?” Haha just kidding. MS and I shared our melting mess of gelato and rice bubbles with it’s novelty idea of a syringe full of ganache that I guess you are supposed to inject into it. That just didn’t work for me – the idea of the syringe I mean. Here’s an idea… You leave the syringe out of my gelato and we will make it $6 all up? Sweet.
Personally I didn’t think the gelato at N2 was anything to write home about and neither did MS. I also think that the whole liquid nitrogen thing is just a fad that will fade with time, just like frozen yogurt (something I still go crazy for). Firstly, at N2 there’s the waiting over 20 minutes in a shop that’s shoulder to shoulder with people each waiting for their own gelato to be ‘made’. I know the ‘show’ is all part of the experience but a five minute show is enough for me. Secondly, well, the true gelato lovers are probably going to hate me for saying this but it’s just ice cream with a higher price tag (AU$8????!!! You’re frigin kidding me right?). And thirdly, the stuff is near damn completely melted by the time you get your hands on it. I know the whole liquid nitrogen thing is part of the freezing process but they need to freeze that sh*t for longer man.
Yeah the flavours are wacky, they use full cream milk and fresh cream from local dairies, real fruit and herbs and the list goes on but surely that’s a prerequisite for any good gelato place these days? Cool concept, shitty waiting times and for me I think they aren’t really making particularly great gelato but just jazzing it up with some dry ice and plastic syringes. If you want amazing gelato without all the BS – apart from the lineup – then head a few blocks over to Gelato Messina on Smith Street – hands down the gelato shop of all gelato shops (IMO).
N2 Extreme Gelato
329 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Opening Hours: 1pm- 11pm 7 days